molecules-logoAging is a multifactorial and tissue-specific process involving diverse alterations regarded as the “hallmarks of aging”, which include genomic instability, telomere attrition, epigenetic alterations, loss of proteostasis, deregulated nutrient sensing, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, stem cell exhaustion and altered intracellular communication.

Most Nutritional Therapists are comfortable in the concept and application of concentrated essential fatty acids especially fish oils as a means of altering abnormal inflammatory pathways in the body. Some EFA’s are perceived to be anti-inflammatory and others pro-inflammatory. Whilst the simplistic dichotomy of interpretation (Omega 3 Anti/Omega 6 Pro) has kept many a student content that they have mastered the art of complex fatty acid biochemistry – the reality is that cell membranes operate in a state of competitive inhibition with fatty acids of all carbon chain lengths and their role is highly sophisticated and complementary.

So…the paper out in the journal Cell this month (Sept 2010) from the lab of Prof. Olefsky at the University of California is a really exciting addition to the extensive research available – in that it elegantly describes a key anti-inflammatory mechanism using a G-protein coupled receptor.[1]

The immune system in humans and animal is complex, all the more so because it crosses over all tissues. The traditional view has been that the immune system keeps itself in check, and that is mostly the case. However, for some years there has been a development of a neural feedback loop comprehension that helps to answer some of the complex mechanisms and remarkably ties in the role of a nutritional strategy for immune management. This is known as the inflammatory reflex.

The inflammatory reflex, a prototypical neural circuit that modulates innate immunity, is activated by the presence of cytokines or other inflammatory products in tissues that triggers afferent (a nerve that passes impulses from receptors toward or to the central nervous system) action potentials travelling in the vagus nerve. The ascending information is relayed to brainstem nuclei that control efferent (nerves that convey nervous stimulus from the brain to other parts) neural signals in the form of action potentials transmitted back to the periphery via the vagus nerve.

Whilst this may sound complex – few subjects that combine neurology and immunology aren’t… the outcome suggested meets simple strategies, based on complex mechanisms.

Michael Ash BSc(Hons) DO, ND, DipION reviews the possibility that strategically selected foods and food concentrates represent a valid therapy for inflammatory illnesses.

There is substantive interest in the potential translation from bench to bedside of simple safe strategies to modify the adverse effects of inflammation. Approaching from a preventative and restorative angle the numbers of papers being published on the role of orally ingested bacteria (probiotics) and in this article – the herb Tumeric (active ingredient of which is curcumin) is presenting increasingly supportive evidence for their reasonable and safe clinical use.

Modern analytical techniques are helping to reveal novel opportunities for inflammation control in the gut and the systemic tissues in new ways that even a few years ago would have been thought of as very alternative!

Researchers have found that six essential oils –from thyme, clove, rose, eucalyptus, fennel and bergamot—can suppress the inflammatory COX-2 enzyme, in a manner similar to resveratrol, the chemical linked with the health benefits of red wine. They also identified that the chemical carvacrol was primarily responsible for this suppressive activity.[i]

Essential oils from plants have long been a component of natural remedies, and even today are used for their aromatherapy, analgesic (e.g. cough drops), or antibacterial properties. The exact way they work is not completely understood. However, Hiroyasu Inoue and colleagues in Japan believed that many essential oils might target COX-2 much like compounds in wine and tea.

The Safe Foundation for a Healthy Pregnancy

APA logoThe omega-3 DHA is an “essential” fatty acid that the body cannot produce and must be consumed through diet or supplementation. The baby must acquire its DHA from its mother, and she must obtain it by increasing the omega-3s in her daily diet or from daily supplementation.[1] International recommendations suggest that pregnant and nursing women consume 300-600mg of DHA every day to ensure that mothers remain healthy during and after pregnancy, and that their babies have every opportunity for healthy development.[2]

coverThe onset of age-related neurodegenerative diseases superimposed on a declining nervous system could enhance the motor and cognitive behavioural deficits that normally occur in senescence. It is likely that, in cases of severe deficits in memory or motor function, hospitalisation and/or custodial care would be a likely outcome. This means that unless some way is found to reduce these age-related decrements in neuronal function, health care costs will continue to rise exponentially.

IBD’s are characterised by wasting and chronic intestinal inflammation induced by many different cytokine-mediated pathways. It is clearly recognised that medical and surgical interventions do not cure Crohn’s disease because relapse is the rule after remission.

Until a few years ago, IBD was classified into Th1-dependent, that is, Crohn’s disease, and Th2-dependent, that is, ulcerative colitis, phenotypes. However, in recent years, it has been shown that new T-cell subclasses, that is, Th17 and regulatory T cells (TR), exist independently of Th1 and Th2 and that they play a central role in modulating IBD.

cover-mediumUse of benzodiazepine anti-anxiety drugs (like Valium) reached epidemic proportions two decades ago, the use of which was enshrined in the Rolling Stones song ‘Mothers Little Helper’. While long-term side effects have led to a significant decrease in use in recent times, modern benzodiazepine derivatives are still widely prescribed.

Drugs vs. Nutrients
Although nutritional approaches to anxiety have not seen much use by the medical profession, consumers have obtained some degree of anxiolytic relief through the use of such OTC items as B-complex vitamins, magnesium, GABA, and herbs like valerian.

S0091674909X00102_cov200hComplementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) are used in more than 80% of the world’s population and are becoming an increasing component of the US health care system, with more than 70% of the population using CAM at least once and annual spending reaching as much as $34 billion. Since the inception of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, there has been an enormous increase in the number of basic science and therapy-based clinical trials exploring CAM.